Creating opportunities for our students to grow and shine
When I speak to students I often direct them to take advantage of the myriad opportunities that are available to try out new things while at school. I explain that there will never be an easier opportunity to explore areas such as sport, fitness, performing and visual arts, community leadership and social justice than through our organised programs. There are many school experiences in which I can provide a personal example of how it has helped me in life. Sadly, performing arts is not one of the areas that I had a real go and discovered a passion.
When I was in Year 10, I did sign up to audition for my school play. Well, to be totally honest, I was dragged along to auditions as moral support for a close friend. I was not by any means a seasoned actor, but to my surprise I landed a miniscule role in Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible.
The rehearsal schedule was issued and I discovered that, helpfully, the rehearsals had been organised into acts to avoid an excessive time commitment for the minor characters who were not involved in one or more of the four acts. Rather unhelpfully, my character stood mute on stage for almost the whole play. I was required at each rehearsal and it took up every moment of after school time and the weekends where I would stand around purposelessly and wait for it to end. From memory, I did have one line but this was not enough to keep the tedium at bay.
It was not a positive experience for me and I recall agonising about how to tell the Director that I wanted to withdraw. Finally I summoned the courage and nervously spluttered that I would no longer like to be in the play. The Director paused and said without a hint of malice, “well how will we fill your role? On second thoughts we can just write it out as I guess you were a tad superfluous, weren’t you?”
Now this experience is in stark contrast to what I witness among my students who come alive when presented with the genuine collaborative and creative opportunities that come from involvement in the performing arts.
Students tell me that participation in such opportunities has helped anchor their sense of community, find confidence and take on new challenges. Some are passionate and see this as a career path or lifelong interest, others see this as an opportunity to be involved in something different and engaging.
This week I experienced a double highlight when watching our wonderful Years 3 to 5 performance of The Next Chapter. I was bursting with joy watching our students’ talent, ruach (spiritedness) and sense of fun. I was also filled with happiness witnessing our parents, grandparents and siblings looking on with adoration and pride.
It occurred to me that involvement in opportunities like The Next Chapter are so important for the personal skills that are developed like courage, teamwork, listening to instructions, voice projection, body language and facial expressions. They also offer the chance for us to come together as a community to celebrate our students.
Whether it is a Creative Assembly, a soiree or concert or one of our major theatre or musical productions, it is so wonderful that we provide our students with these exceptional opportunities to shine and invite our families to witness this growth first hand.
It is a truism that ‘hindsight is 20:20’, but if I had my school days over again, I know that I should have stuck through that hard time during rehearsals and maybe I would have reaped the benefits that I see so many of our students enjoying. Then again, as John Proctor says in The Crucible: “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.”